« Another State signs on.. | Blog home | How to discourage publication in languages other than English »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

The first Koori Centre lecture for 2008 was given by John Hobson, "Towards a model for training Indigenous languages educators in Australia" [the full paper will be up via the e-repository shortly). And a timely and thought-inducing talk it was too.

John's recently been to Canada, the US and Aotearoa /NZ, looking at Indigenous languages education there. He's come back convinced that we need to do a lot more in Australia to improve the way Indigenous languages are taught. The price of doing nothing is that kids will lose interest in Indigenous languages, and won't put the effort in that's needed to go beyond saying a few words and singing a song or two.

On the (highly) political side, he's come back convinced that the existence of treaties has created climates much more favourable to Indigenous languages rights in those countries than we have in Australia.

On the money side, he noted the major difference between the user-pays attitude to education found in the US and Canada, and the reliance on governments here and in NZ. Native Americans and Native Canadians are using money from mining, from gambling, from whatever resources they have to pay for language work. In practice this means a great diversity in what's on offer, since some groups have far more resources than others. It also means that they rely more on summer and winter institutes (the inpsirations for our Indigenous Languages Institute and Australian Linguistics Institutes) than we in Australia have.

On the less (but still) political side, he highlighted the growing realisation that, like any children learning languages, Indigenous children need qualified teachers who are fluent speakers of the language. (This point has been emphasised by Timoti Karetu (Inaugural Commissioner of Maori Language) *).

On the qualifications side, the Koori Centre has been training people through a Masters of Indigenous Language Education, which covers people who already have degrees. But that doesn't provide the equivalent of an undergraduate major in a Indigenous language that's needed to satisfy education department requirements for teaching a language. Majors in Indigenous languages just aren't on offer. Universities are finding it hard to pay for teaching languages like Indonesian, let alone lots of Indigenous languages with only a handful of students each. So in practice this means developing a workable system of accrediting fluency which is acceptable to communities and to education departments. Tricky.

What about people who don't have degrees but want to get involved in language revitalisation? John noted the advantages of the Ladder model practised in British Columbia (which supports the idea that all children should be able to learn a Canadian aboriginal language at school), and especially by the University of Victoria, whereby students can undertake a First Nations Languages Certificate, delivered through institutes, and whereby the students' fluency is accredited by local groups who are accorded the right to do this by the BC College of Teachers. This can be followed by a certificate in Aboriginal language revitalization (apparently cross-subsidised by income from students learning English), then a 'Development Standard Teaching Certificate', which allows them to teach in primary schools for four years, by which time it is assumed they'll have made some progress towards a Bachelor of Education.

One advantage we do have in Australia is the block release mode of teaching, whereby students can come for short intensive periods, rather than having to leave home for two semesters. That would help the delivery of certificates to people living in remote areas. The ladder model is a bit similar to the stepwise way in which the 1980s Aboriginal teacher trainees were taught in the then Batchelor College (now Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education). No certificate of fluency, but as part of their course, each year they would do "Aboriginal Languages Fortnight" in a community - it was a fortnight's training in aspects of their first language (literacy, literature production, and sometimes language teacher training). Involvement in this training was some of the most rewarding and interesting work I've had.

Setting up something like the Ladder approach would require cooperation between a whole bunch of people - local Indigenous people and language centres, school syllabus and teacher accreditation bodies, centres like the Koori Centre, researchers in language education, language revitalisation and maintenance , and linguistics.

A lot of work, but can we afford not to do it? Something for the 2020 summit?

* E.g. in his plenary talk for the International Program on Indigenous Language and Culture Maintenance, held at Macquarie University as part of the Australian Linguistics Institute, July 2002.

The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.

Recently commented on


Papua New Guinea FAQs from Eva Lindstrom Papua New Guinea (New Ireland): Eva Lindstrom's tips for fieldworkers

Australian Languages Answers to some frequently asked questions about Australian languages

Papua Web Information network on Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya)

Hibernating blogs

Indigenous Language SPEAK

Langguj gel Australian linguistics and fieldwork blog

Interesting Blogs

Omniglot Writing systems and languages of the world

LingFormant Linguistics news

Language hat Linguistics news and commentary

Jabal al-Lughat Linguistics news and commentary on a range of languages

Living languages Blog with news items and discussion of endangered languages

OzPapersOnline Notices of recent work on the Indigenous languages of Australia

That Munanga linguist Community linguist blog

Anggarrgoon Claire Bowern's linguistics and fieldwork blog

Savage Minds A group blog on Anthropology

Fully (sic)

Language on the Move Intercultural communication and multilingualism

Talking Alaska: Reflections on the native languages of Alaska

Culture matters: applying anthropology Australian anthropology blog: postgraduates and staff

Long Road ethnography and anthropology blog - including about Australia

matjjin-nehen Blog on Australian linguistics, fieldwork, politics and the environment.

Language Log Group blog on language and linguistics


E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

Tema Modersmål Website in Swedish with links to sites on and in many languages

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project: Language Documentation: What is it? Information on equipment, formats, and archiving, and examples of documentation

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources a worldwide network of organizations, academics, activists, indigenous groups, and others representing indigenous and tribal peoples

Technorati Profile

Technology-enhanced language revitalization Include ILAT (Indigenous Languages and Technology) discussion list.

Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Koryak Net Information on the people of Kamchatka

Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

On-line resources for endangered languages

Papua New Guinea Language Resources Phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy, language maps for many PNG languages

Resource network for linguistic diversity Networking practitioners working to record,retrieve & reintroduce endangered languages


ACLA child language acquisition in three Australian Aboriginal communities

DELAMAN The Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network

PARADISEC The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

Murriny-Patha Song Project Documenting the language and music of public songs and dances composed and performed by Murriny Patha-speaking people

PFED The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries

DOBES Endangered language documentation and archiving, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and sponsored by the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen.

DELP Documenting endangered languages at the University of Sydney

Ethno EResearch Exploring methods and technology for streaming media and interlinear text